Intentional telemetry
27 September 2022 | 5:41 am

Compare the two scenarios:

Scenario A: “We received a piece of user feedback to change this design to avoid errors; their suggestion was well received by other users. Let’s collect some telemetry from that component to see is these issues are representative of the larger population; based on that, we’ll know whether it warrants a re-design of that component.”

Scenario B: “Telemetry says users never use this feature; we can remove it.”

In Scenario B, telemetry prompted a decision; in Scenario A, telemetry helped understand a real specific problem. Telemetry should be used to clarify an existing insight rather than make discoveries on its own. Metrics should not be collected lightly; they should be collected with intention (and, of course, prior informed consent).

Limited tracking and consent
24 September 2022 | 6:28 pm

Assuming data is a liability, how limited should data collection be to not require consent?

I think temporary storage (a week or less) of access logs combined with low-entropy binary information (dark mode, is viewport narrower than what I test with, etc) is reasonable for a small operation. This holds if the data collection is clearly documented in a privacy policy, is Tor-friendly, and obeys signals like GPC. These access logs should exclude high-entropy headers like client hints.

Larger operations should store even less since they have the means to correlate information from many sources. ipscrub comes to mind.

The only long-term storage that should happen without consent is of bot traffic.

Notice box semantics
22 September 2022 | 4:10 pm

I’d rather make a notice a <section> with a heading, or an <aside> if it’s not related to the surrounding content.

You could even add a more specific ARIA (or DPUB-ARIA) role like role="note", role="doc-pullquote", role="doc-tip", etc. But don’t use them unless you have multiple kinds of aside elements and need to help people skim.

Most of these roles actually map to the section superclass rather than the complementary role of aside, which isn’t always a problem: the aside element tells reader-mode implementations to remove the element, but the role tells assistive technologies more useful information. I use a similar hack for my in-page section permalinks.

If the notice is important to the surrounding content and reader-mode shouldn’t remove it, use a section.

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